Whether you’re talking about the field of sport, the arts or music, the difference between being a professional or an amateur comes down to the ability to support oneself financially. Simply put, professionals get paid, while amateurs don’t.
But there is more to being a professional than just receiving money.
Professionals are skilled, dedicated, sometimes naturally talented, always hardworking, and resilient. They go over and above to achieve success, while amateurs do not always.
We all know the stories of Michael Jordan shooting hoops for hours a day, Tiger Woods picking up his first golf club at the age of two and Olympic swimmers training from 4 a.m. for years before getting their one shot at international success.
It makes sense that the best in their fields dedicate time and effort in order to learn more and to be better. Their work extends far beyond the hours for which they are paid or appear in the spotlight. They hone their craft for many hours of every day over the course of years. They must focus intently on diet, exercise, skill development and the status of their competitors. Often those who achieve the most in the field of their particular endeavour are single-minded even to the point of obsession – never feeling they are good enough and always seeking to learn more.
Even when things are going well and professionals are on top of their game, they continue to practise religiously to improve their skills. They don’t stop training because they have been a professional for five or ten years. In fact, often those who achieve high-level success spend even more time perfecting their craft and pushing themselves to new levels. I once read that a famous tennis player would spend hours every day bouncing the ball to ensure he perfected his pre-serve bounce.
Not all professionals are superstars, of course. Many of us claim to be professionals in our chosen careers as accountants, marketers, bus drivers, warehouse managers and nurses. But are we really professionals or are we amateurs who happen to get paid?
Most of us have completed some level of education, gained a qualification, and put in hours on the job. However, how many of us continue to dedicate our own time to perfecting and developing our craft?
The most successful individuals in business, like the most successful in the arts, music or sport, are obsessive about learning and development. They read books, find mentors and coaches, upgrade their qualifications and are constantly thinking about ways to improve.
Today, the question I would like you to ask yourself is: Am I behaving like a professional or am I just a paid amateur?
Do you look after your body, your mind and your overall health to ensure that you are in optimal condition to be your best?
Do you study your competitors to understand what you can learn from them?
Do you spend discretionary effort learning and improving yourself?
How much time do you spend practising your craft? What is your equivalent of the pre-serve bounce that you need to master?
Do you expect to be promoted and given pay rises just because you turn up and do the required hours? Or do you strive to be better and to add value in ways that go beyond the limits of a position description?
If you would like to find out more about how to be a professional rather than merely a paid amateur book a time to talk with one of our founders!